Friday, 5 August 2011
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
Date of birth: 4 April 1989 (age 22)
Currently: 11th in GP2 standings
He made his first appearance in Europe at the end of the year, contesting the final round of the International F3000 Master series (which would become International Formula Master the following season) at Estoril. He shone by winning all three races that were held at the Portuguese circuit.
Luiz moved into GP2 at the end of 2008, contesting the 2008-09 Asia series for Arden. He won the final race of the campaign in Bahrain after starting from pole position courtesy of the reverse grid system. He made a return to Fisichella Motor Sport for the 2009 main series, the team changing hands and becoming Coloni later that year. He scored his first points finish in the first race at Monza in September, before the second race after starting from pole.
Luiz switched to the Rapax team for 2010, and began the season strongly. He scored points in all of the first six races, including two second places in the sprint races at Barcelona and Istanbul. He then failed to score again until the final round in Abu Dhabi, picking up another sprint race second place. Meanwhile, his teammate Pastor Maldonado won the championship.
In GP2 with AirAsia he scored another of his customary sprint race second places at Valencia, before scoring his maiden pole position in the series at the Hungaroring. He was unable to convert that into a win, but still finished on the podium in third.
Talent rating: Luiz showed well in F3 early in his career and was strong as well upon moving into F3000 in Europe. His time in GP2 hasn't gone so well, particularly at Rapax last year where he was well beaten by teammate Maldonado. He proved with his pole in Hungary though that he can be very quick on occasions. 7/10
Chances of getting to F1: Having bought his way into reserve roles at both Virgin and now Lotus, Luiz has certainly put his foot in the door and has also racked up some mileage. His GP2 performances aren't warranting a promotion just yet, but at 22 and with the backing he has, he's got a few years to put that right. 8/10
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Date of birth: 6 April 1989 (age 22)
Currently: 10th in GP2 standings
In 2007 Stefano contested the Eurocup and Italian Formula Renault championships. In the Eurocup he scored one win and finished fourth in the standings. In the Italian series he took two wins, both at the Misano round, and finished tenth overall.
Stefano remained in the Euro Series in 2009 with Prema, and won the opening race of the season at Hockenheim. He finished third in the first race at the Norising, the third meeting of the year, but was then excluded after hitting race-winner Jules Bianchi after the podium proceedings. He only scored one further podium that season and finished tenth in the standings. He did finished third at the F3 Masters event at Zandvoort.
Stefano made his GP2 debut at Valencia in August 2009, signing with the Durango team. After retiring from both races there, he then crashed heavily at Eau Rouge at the end of the first race at Spa. After writing off the car he was due to be the team's only driver at Monza, taking over teammate Nelson Panciatici's car. However he was still suffering from the injuries he sustained and the team was forced to withdraw. The team did not contest the final race of the year at Portimao, either.
Stefano returned to GP2 for 2011 with Trident Racing. In the four-race Asia Series at the start of the year he won once in Abu Dhabi, scoring the team's first GP2 win since Monaco in 2008, and finished fifth in the standings. He continued that form into the European campaign, winning the sprint race at the opening round in Turkey. He scored another victory in the sprint race in Hungary, coming through from 21st on the grid in chageable weather conditions.
Talent rating: Stefano has shown promise at stages throughout his career, but has been unable to convert any of this into consistent results. Consistency remains an issue in GP2, but he has still picked up three wins with a team usually found towards the back of the field. Only runaway series leader Romain Grosjean has won more races in 2011. 7/10
Chances of getting to F1: A move to a front-running team in GP2 could allow Stefano to be a title contender. If he can achieve that then, with a bit of financial backing, F1 could certainly be a possibility. He would become the first F1 driver from the principality since Olivier Beretta in 1994. 7/10
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Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Date of birth: 28 August 1989 (age 21)
Currently: 6th in GP3 standings
Valtteri began his single-seater career in 2007, racing in the Formula Renault Northern European Cup and finished third in the standings with two wins. At the end of the year he contested the Formula Renault UK Winter Series and won three of the four races, but could not be crowned champion because he did not hold an MSA-registered licence.
For 2009 Valtteri moved up to the Formula 3 Euro Series, driving for the crack ART Grand Prix squad. He scored six podiums and two pole positions to finish third in the standings as top rookie. Though he didn't win a Euro Series race, he did win the prestigous Masters of F3 event at Zandvoort in June.
Valtteri has switched to the GP3 Series in 2011, remaining with ART. Despite starting the season as the favourite he had a slow start to the season, with just one podium finish from the first half. He picked things up at the Nurburgring though, finishing third in the first race and then winning the second. He lies just ten points off the standings lead in sixth place.
Talent rating: Valtteri shone in 2008 with his double Formula Renault crown. He then impressed again with his maiden year in F3. Last year was tougher, as has been the first half of 2011. However, the talent hasn't just disappeared overnight and he remains a top prospect. 8/10
Chances of getting to F1: Valtteri's performances in his early career made F1 bosses take note, with Williams signing him up. That deal means he has his foot in the door already, but he needs to progress to GP2 and impress there before he can make the step up. 8/10
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Photo credits: GP3, Thijs Bekkema, F3 Euro Series, GP3
Tuesday, 26 July 2011
Date of birth: 22 January 1993 (age 18)
Currently: 11th in GP3 standings, 10th in Auto GP standings
Rio made the step from karting into single-seaters in 2008, contesting the Formula Asia 2.0 series for Formula Renault cars. He won one race and finished third in the standings. He also contested 10 of the 14 races in the Asian Formula Renault Challenge, taking two wins and finishing sixth in the final standings.
2010 saw Rio make the move to Europe to contest the brand-new GP3 Series with Manor Racing. Despite his relative inexperience at the age of just 17 he won at the second round of the season at Istanbul. He scored a further two podium finishes at Silverstone and Monza to place fifth in the final standings.
Rio has remained in GP3 in 2011, but failed to score any points in the opening three meetings of the year. He scored a fourth-place finish at Silverstone and then won in a rain-hit race at the Nurburgring, coming out on top of a late three-way fight for the win. He has also been racing in Auto GP for DAMS, finishing second in a race at Brno.
Talent rating: Rio was dominant in Formula BMW, and then shone in his first year in Europe in GP3 against more accomplished rivals. He has struggled this year so far but showed off his talent with his drive to victory at the Nurburgring. 6/10
Chances of getting to F1: Rio has attracted plenty of attention from his native Indonesia, and has good funding with it. He has already established links with the Virgin team, and also has time on his side to move into GP2 and do well there before making the step to F1. 8/10
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Wednesday, 13 July 2011
Date of birth: 15 March 1988 (age 23)
Currently: Leading GP3 standings
For 2009 Alexander made the step up to Formula 3, contesting the Euro Series with the Mucke Motorsport team. Despite his relative inexperience he finished fourth overall, just missing out on the rookie title to Valtteri Bottas, who drove for championship-winning squad ART.
Sims was signed by the Gravity Sports Management firm for the 2010 season, enabling him to continue in Formula 3 for a second year. He made the switch to ART, where he was expected to fight Bottas for the title. Unfortunately ART could not dominate proceedings as they had in previous years. A disappointing season saw Sims finish fourth again, with just one win.
In November 2010 Alexander completed a test with the McLaren F1 team at Silverstone, as a prize for winning the award in 2008.
For 2011 Alexander made the move to the GP3 Series, racing for Status Grand Prix. He won the second of ther races at the season opener at Istanbul, but then suffered two first-lap incidents at Barcelona. A podium at Valencia followed after topping the timesheets in a mid-season test, before he scored a double podium finish at Silverstone where he demonstrated fine overtaking to work his way through the field. This has given him the lead in the standings at the halfway stage.
Talent rating: After a good start to his single-seater career his stunning rookie year in F3 made everyone take notice, if they hadn't already. A member of both the BRDC's Superstar and MSA's Team UK programmes, Alexander has been highlighted as one of the UK's hottest young drivers. He suffered a tough second year in F3 last year, but is now making ammends in GP3. 8/10
Chances of getting to Formula 1: Gravity support should help him into GP2 next year, should he continue with his strong form. Impressing there from the off will be key to his chances of making it to the big time. At 23, he cannot afford to waste any time. 7/10
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Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Date of birth: 11 November 1989 (age 21)
Currently: 6th in GP3 standings
After a successful karting career in Scotland and Britain, Lewis made his first steps into single-seaters with a guest drive in Formula Jedi. He qualified in pole position and won his first ever car race. He then contested the Formula Renault UK Winter Series, in a car leased by Highland Arena, a company set up by family friends to promote sporting talent from the Scottish Highlands. He scored two podium finishes from four races to end up sixth in the final standings.
At the end of the year he took part in a GP3 Series test after a last minute phone call with Atech CRS boss David Hayle. He topped the timesheets on his first day in the car and was quickest again on the following day. His performance impressed the GP3 teams and he would eventually be signed by MW Arden for the 2011 season.
In December 2010 Lewis won the prestigous McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, after a series of evaluation tests in different machinery at Silverstone.
A tangle with another driver in his first GP3 race in Turkey meant he scored no points from the first weekend of the season. That trend continued at Barcelona but he scored a pole position for the next round at Valencia, finishing the race second. He then scored his first victory in the series at Silverstone on the morning of the British GP. He lies sixth in the standings at the halfway stage, just ten points off the lead.
Talent rating: Despite a late move into single-seaters Lewis has proven his talent since then, finishing runner-up in Formula Renault and then impressing immediately behind the wheel of a GP3 car. He remains in with a chance of the title in GP3 at his first attempt, and has clearly impressed Red Bull. 8/10
Chances of getting to F1: His current form makes him deserving of moving up the ladder, but funding could be an issue. His best hopes are with Red Bull, and being made an official member of their Junior Team. If so, they will probably place him in FR3.5, and perhaps take him to F1 one day. 7/10
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